Opinion: Interrogating the Benue misfortune

By Tersoo Zamber

Benue’s yesterday’s story may not be too pleasant, but that of today is shameful, to be honest.

There are challenges, no doubt. But rather than address them, they have become opportunities for self aggrandisement.

Against all odds, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state came to power when the people were crying for being owed four months salaries.

What appeared to be hardship in the stste then, has been redefined, as the true meaning of hardship is known and felt by even babies in the womb.

That he wept in the temple of God in solidarity with the people, and rededicated the state to God, many people thought the long awaited “messiah” had come.

More than three years down the line, it has become crystal clear that the people hope has been dashed.

First, billions have accrued to the state in form of loans, refunds, allocations, grants, IGR with very little or nothing tangible to show for it.

It is not news that, from the four months arrears of salaries inherited, it has doubled for state workers, tripled for local government workers and primary school teachers and more for pensioners, the most vulnerable of all.

From an inherited wage bill of 3.7bn in 2015, it has steadily grown to 7.8bn, even with the sack of workers and non employment of any in the last three years.

Where has all the billions gone that not even a single project has been inaugurated, apart from the renovated school of Nursing and Midwifery, Makurdi.

The Cargo airport that was initiated, and people were deceived about has crashed, yet there is no show of remorse from the government for hoodwinking the people.

Substantial sum may have gone into this failed project that was dead on arrival.

When some of us wrote advising the government not to embark on such obviously deceptive project, we were castigated by aimless flunkies.

The era of frequent MoUs in China has gone by, with no single investment attracted to the state.

And public funds have been spent without anything to show for it in this regard too.

The security situation in the state has not been spared of the bare faced deceit, as it is shrouded in controversies.

The sudden realization that the unpopularity of the government is irredeemable, and reelection is not guaranteed in APC, have paved the way for defection to the PDP.

While the state government claims there is no money for meaningful projects and payment of salaries, it has been alleged that billions of naira have been dolled out to be accepted into the fold.

This has created an avenue for blame game.

The governor is putting the blame on his erstwhile benefactor, Senator George Akume as responsible for his inability to perform.

How? For one to know that the situation at hand is a clear case of incompetence and deceit, former governor Gabriel Suswam was a godson to Sen. Akume, but the former governor did some projects including the roads in his area.

If Sen. Akume is a problem now to Gov. Ortom, why was he not a problem to former governor Suswam?

Agreed, that Sen. Akume is the problem, for someone to have done better than the other under similar circumstance clearly speaks volume of one’s competence over the other.

Did the former governor tell him not to pay salaries?

Did he stop him from constructing roads even to his village?

The University Teaching Hospital, built by Sen. Akume, completed and operated by Suswam, why has it become something else under this administration?

Is it the former godfather that told the godson to mismanage what he (godfather) built?

Again, both of them may not be good, but the governor should not take advantage of our gullibility to tell us sweet tales that don’t make meaning.

Now, this deceit has assumed another dimension.

The security situation and the Anti Open Grazing Law have become campaign tools, all in an attempt to get sentiment.

Since when has sympathy become a project to flaunt for campaign?

Should an incumbent governor weep sentiment or showcase his verifiable achievements to seek for reelection?

Propaganda is allowed, but should be done with moderation, where and when suitable.

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